The document released on November 17 was endorsed by President Vladimir Voronin. Along with his predecessors (Mircea Snegur and Petru Lucinski), leaders of parliament factions, and diplomatic corps accredited in Chisinau, President Voronin was quick in declaring that the Kozak plan “provides an unique opportunity” to settle the Transdnistrian conflict. Nevertheless, one week later President Voronin adjourned signing the Memorandum.
The President was so excited about the possible outcomes of Kozak plan, that he compared them to the implications of the Berlin Wall fall. A rather curios comparison one may say, particularly if considering that the fall of Berlin Wall heralded the end of Communism, and that President of the Republic of Moldova is also the Chair of the Communist Party. Supposedly, the event should have brought some of the sad memories to their mind.
High rank officials in Moscow also expressed their enthusiasm with regard to the implications of the “Kozak plan”. Immediately the Memorandum was released, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, insinuated that Russia would comply with its international engagements to evacuate its troops from Transdnistria only after Kozak plan would have been enforced. Although Kozak plan did not include specific provisions on the military guarantees and it had not been signed yet, on November 21 Russian Defence Minister, Serghei Ivanov, announced his intentions to deploy peacekeeping forces in Transdnistria, i.e. a 2,000 squad to be deployed by the year 2020. He even succeeded to issue the necessary orders in this respect. There is no doubt that the move came as a follow-up to Transdnistria’s acceptance of the “Kozak plan” on condition that Russia would deploy its military forces on the soil of the Republic of Moldova for a 30 years period.
Therefore it seems all-too-clear what would be the likely outcomes of enforcing a unilateral Russian plan, drafted for a single purpose of safeguarding the interests of Russian citizens who seized the power on a portion of the Republic of Moldova, wherein Russian military is to be stationed for another 30 years.
The impetuous evolution of events around Memorandum signing has revealed that its foremost intention was to take domestic and international public opinion by surprise. Thus, only several hours after President Putin had announced he would pay a visit to Moldova, President Voronin decided to adjourn its signing.
Dmitry Kozak of the Kremlin administration could not hold back and deplored Moldovan President’s refusal to sign the already initialled Memorandum by calling it “political irresponsibility”. Russian press and Transdnistrian press alike purposefully pointed to the lack of President Voronin’s credibility and his indecision.
Signing the Memorandum in the presence of President Putin would have given the event due grandeur, thereby paving the ground for apply the principle — the one who developed and ensured Memorandum signing is solely entitled to guarantee its enforcement, including by deploying its military on the soil of the Republic of Moldova.
Apparently a heavy pressure was wielded on President Voronin. He had to declare that he did not back off from signing the Memorandum, but merely adjourned it until after OSCE Summit in Maastricht. The President knows “the crocodile never backs off”. This is exactly how Vladimir Voronin characterised his Russian counterpart when he gave Vladimir Putin a crystal crocodile for his 50th anniversary. Indeed in the context of Russian President’s uprightness, President Voronin’s indecision stands out as quite burlesque.
To ascribe some logic to his actions, President Voronin had to make public the reasons behind his decision to adjourn Kozak Memorandum signing. These arguments came in response to accusations of “political irresponsibility” brought by the Memorandum author. First and foremost, the President pointed that to a 70% proportion “Kozak plan” was “the plan of Chisinau”, Russian official having the secondary role of mediating on its details. If so than a legitimate question arises, why does Kremlin insist so much on the Memorandum’s acceptance? Secondly, Memorandum signing was adjourned because Transdnistria refused to accept the document to be also signed by the Gagauz-Yeri Governor. The funny thing here is that the first article of the Memorandum outlines that the Republic of Moldova and Transdnistria reached an agreement on settling the Transdnistrian conflict. However, Gagauz-Yeri is not a part of the Transdnistrian conflict. Thirdly, the President was probably put on guard by Smirnov’s words on the need to have Russian military deployed in the Republic of Moldova for another 30 years. However, the Memorandum itself does not include any reference to this effect. Fourthly, the refusal to sign the Memorandum was due to some “wording cunnings” that allowed for such term as “Transdnistrian Moldovan Republic” to surface in the document. President Voronin believed that such a wording might have meant recognising Transdnistria’s independence, especially if it would have refused to enforce the Memorandum after its signing. The odd thing is that during a week since Memorandum had been published Moldovan authorities failed to notice those “wordin cunnings” and even were in favor of signing it, fact confirmed during the meeting with diplomatic corps accredited in Chisinau. In addition, the argument that the term “Transdnistrian Moldovan Republic” might pose a threat is totally groundless. And this because the term “Transdnistrian Moldovan Republic” occurs in Article 3.5 under the prerogatives granted to Transdnistria. It’s strange, to say at least, to recognize all Transdnistria’s state symbols and attributes and at the same time to deny its right to have the name it wishes to. And finally, supposedly one of reasons for postponing Memorandum signing was that “we should have backed up the entire process of drafting the Memorandum with intensive diplomatic efforts, involving OSCE, EU, NATO, Council of Europe and other European structures … settling the Transdnistrian conflict behind the Europe’s back would be beyond the understanding of the European institutions…”
At the same time, President Voronin refrained from commenting other very important issues. It would be very interesting to find out who came up with the idea of granting Transdnistria 1/3 of the seats in the future Federation Senate, and also the right to veto with only 1/4 of the votes. This is not a wording, but rather an issue of principle, which would affect the adoption of ordinary and organic laws, and also Government designation. This particularly raised the concern of the European institutions.
Therefore, on the one hand President Voronin acknowledged that he had ignored the opinion of European countries and institutions when working out the Memorandum. He also insinuated that he was disappointed with the performance of the Russian President’s envoy, Dmitry Kozak, who had failed to fulfil the mission entrusted to him. On the other hand, it is all-too-clear that the real reason for adjourning Memorandum signing should be sought in the statement of Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Igor Ivanov, who accused European institutions of “interference in CIS internal matters”. This reference to CIS internal policy was rather curious. Given that it is oriented and supporting secessionist and authoritarian regimes in CIS, we would have been far better off without such a policy.
There is no doubt, Memorandum signing was adjourned due to the fact that it was worked out “behind Europe’s back”. During his telephone conversation with President Voronin, OSCE Chairman-in-Office Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, outlined the concerns voiced by a series of member-states with regard to “Kozak plan”, namely: a) lack of clarity on the proposed division of powers between central government and federation subjects; b) absolute veto granted to Transdnistria for at least 10 years; c) lack of an acceptable system of international guarantees. Diplomats from OSCE member states disapproved the secrecy involved in working out the Memorandum, leave aside the methods chosen to notify international public opinion on the struck deal.
The reaction of OSCE member states is illustrative to the fact that the principle — OSCE will accept any comprise solution the parties may reach — has no absolute value. Especially when the compromise is reached via obscure means.
In this respect US representative to OSCE, Stephen M. Minikes, pointed that US was not even consulted while the Memorandum was worked out. He added “each citizen of the Republic of Moldova will be affected by the way Transdnistrian conflict is resolved, that is why they should be given an opportunity to freely speak up their minds within public debates prior to the eventual referendum to be held on this issue”.
The issue of future military guarantees should also gain international approval according to US diplomat. It would be possible to deploy multilateral peacekeeping and stabilisation forces with an international mandate. EU representatives largely supported this US position during a recent session of the OSCE Permanent Council. In short, this is the essence of “interference in CIS internal affairs” Igor Ivanov referred to.
Opposition reacted to “Kozak plan” in a traditional manner: boycott of Parliament sessions, public declarations, and protest rallies. This time, however accusations brought to public authorities are totally different. For instance, President Voronin was accused of “high treason” for his willingness to sign the Russian Memorandum. According to opposition parties the enforcement of “Kozak plan” would undermine Republic of Moldova’s independence and sovereignty and would tie it to Transdnistrian regime and Russian Federation. On the other hand, opposition rightly points that as it stands now Constitution could only be amended, but not replaced with a new one as the “Kozak plan” envisages.
One week after Memorandum was released, the major opposition forces of the Republic of Moldova, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary parties alike, established the Committee for Defending Republic of Moldova’s Independence and Constitution. Noteworthy, the parties that founded the Committee gathered around 35% of the votes in the last local elections. National Assembly of the Citizens of the Republic of Moldova that gathered thousands of citizens on November 30 at the call of the Committee was illustrative of the oppositions’ ability to join forces.
Interestingly the arguments that were cited in the declarations and appeals issued by the Committee are very much in tune with the ones cited by international organisations and OSCE member states. On the other hand, speeches of various party leaders that are members of the Committee highlighted different nuances of their positions. Thus, for instance the messages calling for the resignation of the President and Parliament are in contrast with those voicing “concerns” or condemning the “excesses”.
Under those circumstances the crisis may perpetrate as long as the signing of the Memorandum is adjourned. It’s up to the President whether the crisis would aggravate or decrease. Apparently though the “adjournment” would be perpetrated for quite a while.
Moldovan authorities have found themselves in the worst crisis ever. They have fallen into Kremlin’s disgrace due to their indecision, they have put OSCE member state on guard due to murky bargains struck behind “Europe’s back”, they have given Transdnistrian propaganda an opportunity to speculate on Chisinau’s lack of credibility, and finally they have triggered protest rallies staged by united opposition, which up to now has failed to find common idea for joint actions.